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CW Journal : Autumn 01 : Message from the President

Message from the President

The Cornerstone of Our Future

President Colin Campbell

As this issue of the journal left the press, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation launched the public phase of what may be one of the most important undertakings in its history, its first comprehensive fund-raising initiative, the Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg. It is a centerpiece of our seventy-fifth anniversary celebration, and the cornerstone of our future.

The campaign’s ambitious goal is to raise $500 million in contributions by December 2004. The campaign’s purpose is as consequential: to see that this restored colonial capital remains “a great center for historical study and inspiration.” Those were the words John D. Rockefeller Jr. used when he set out to return Williamsburg to its eighteenth-century fame and beauty, and they capture the idea he distilled into our motto, “That the future may learn from the past.” The campaign’s aims include ensuring continued Historic Area preservation, supporting a growing array of educational programs, exhibiting and enhancing priceless collections, encouraging historical, archaeological, and architectural research, and expanding visitor facilities.

Since the quiet phase of the campaign opened in 1995, philanthropists large and small have contributed $260 million toward these objectives. Their generosity is truly impressive.

Just as we, and those who went before us, benefit by gaining a deeper understanding of what was accomplished in Williamsburg two hundred years ago, and of the setting in which the idea of America was shaped, so will those who come after us. For our children, and our children’s children, we are stewards of the memory of those times: the soaring rhetoric, the courage, and even the shortcomings.

Here Patrick Henry first rose to his feet in opposition to tyranny. Here young Thomas Jefferson imbibed the wine of liberty. Here George Washington enlisted in the cause of freedom. Here were recorded the Stamp Act Resolves, the first vote for American independence, and the Virginia Declaration of Rights-the wellspring of our Bill of Rights. Here, for two centuries since, Americans-father and son, mother and daughter-have come to walk in the steps of giants. And to learn.

As the last century opened, Williamsburg was the only colonial American capital capable of restoration to its form and appearance on the eve of the Revolution. As this century opens, Colonial Williamsburg is the only outdoor, living history museum which has so tangibly preserved and so authentically presented the story of American democracy not only to visitors but in homes and classrooms across the nation.

In 1926, Mr. Rockefeller saw the restoration as an opportunity to rescue a beautiful and significant colonial city. As the work progressed, he said, he came “to feel that perhaps an even greater value is the lesson that it teaches of the patriotism, high purpose, and unselfish devotion of our forefathers to the common good. If this proves to be true, any expenditure will be amply justified.”

Colonial Williamsburg thrives because of the private gifts and the loyal support of people like you, who share Mr. Rockefeller’s vision. Generous men and women from all walks of life care deeply about this place-constructive critics, valued friends, and steadfast benefactors. The Foundation is grateful to each of them. Their support, that is to say, your support, is essential to the success of the Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg, crucial to the preservation of an irreplaceable link to the past, and an indispensable bridge to the future.

Colin Campbell signature

Colin G. Campbell